About this project

Coastal carbon – Australia’s blue forest future


Mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes — also known as ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems — lock up organic carbon at faster rates than most land ecosystems.

Protection and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems can mitigate atmospheric warming by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reaching the atmosphere. Restoration of blue carbon ecosystems could offset up to 2% of current global emissions. Restoring these ecosystems can deliver other important benefits, such as supporting fisheries and biodiversity, improving water quality and reducing damage from storms.

Australia has a national carbon market scheme called the Emission Reduction Fund (ERF). The first blue carbon methodology by the ERF was released in January 2022. The method provides a framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon by restoring mangroves and tidal marshes through the reintroduction of tidal flows. The methodology creates an opportunity for proponents to gain Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).

Did you know: Australia is a global hotspot for blue carbon ecosystems, having the highest distributions of mangroves and seagrass within the Indian Ocean

The project

This project is intended to support and accelerate the adoption of blue carbon methodologies in Australia and elsewhere. It will do this by taking advantage of existing knowledge on how much carbon is stored in these ecosystems and the rates at which it is sequestered, as well using satellite-based earth observation technology and computer modelling to estimate their net emissions reduction potential.

This project follows a science-based approach that builds upon existing knowledge to map and estimate the climate change mitigation potential (measured as CO2-e) of blue carbon ecosystems in Australia, and further develop the science required for estimating other benefits.

The project team consists of researchers from CSIRO and Australian universities that will combine their expertise to deliver this project at a national scale.

The project will be undertaken through two different work packages:

  • The first one will estimate the carbon abatement potential of blue carbon methods that could be implemented through Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • The second package will develop science to underpin ways of quantifying the additional benefits that accrue to fisheries, biodiversity and coastal risk reduction.

The project is funded by BHP and is a example of an industry – science partnership working to generate public good research outcomes. The data from this project will be freely available for the public to use.

To read more about the project check out the project factsheet.